1/48 Monogram F-18 conversion into 

CF-18 "Pod Racer"  

by Dan's Mon-key

Photos by Dan's Mon-keys' Stupid Cousin Larry

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Side view....note engines are floating free with no support rods below them 

 

History

It's the year 2023....the cruel human oppression of the worlds Monkey population for medical lab experiments continues despite Dan Winfield's Mon-keys' decades of Rebel Resistance in the SLF (Simian Liberation Front).  Through various business tactics Dan's Monkey has amassed a small fortune to support his rebel force committed to the eventual goal of freedom for all Monkeys around the world.  Unfortunately he has also blown most of his fortune on Banana Brew and cheap hookers.  Then in Canada it is realised the aging fleet of CF-18's is almost all grounded due to structural stress from decades of combat use.  The Canadian Government has continued it's decades of budgetary cutbacks for military spending  and the option of replacing the aging fighter interceptor fleet is impossible.  Notices are sent out to secure a contractor that can refurbish the CF-18 Fleet  and bring them up to proper structural integrity.  Dan's Mon-key under the guise of "DM Plane Fixing Services" secures a contract to refurbish one CF-18 for $17 million dollars.  The plane chosen is the Millennium Hornet now faded and sitting in an apple orchard in unusable condition.  Dan's Mon-key's plan is to take the 17 million dollars and build the first interceptor for the  Simian Liberation Front Airforce with the hope that by the time the Canadian government figures out what he is up to, he will have brought the US and Canada to their knees with his one new fighter aircraft.     

Dan's Mon-key quickly decides the best way to deal with structural weakness in an airframe is to cut away the vast bulk of the airframe.....so the whole back half of the plane is cut away with an axe and the project begins.  Stupid Cousin Larry insisted on a  tail gun, so a 60mm 7 barrelled gattling gun is designed and fitted as a rear gun....and operated by his Stupid Cousin Larry.  Stupid Cousin Larry insists on having an injection seat fitted in the tail gunner compartment.....Dan's Mon-key reluctantly agrees to this expense but decides to save money by using an ejection seat with no rocket motors and not installing an ejection hatch above the tail gunner ejection seat......Stupid Cousin Larry never figures out these 2 small details.

 

Another design feature is the installation of a 6 barrel 60mm gattling gun in each of the former engine intakes as well as a 4 barrel 20mm cannon in the nose of the plane.  All these improvements are designed to give the fighter the punch it needs top take on the might of the Canadian and US Airforces.  The new SLF fighter prototype is also fitted with 4 heat seeking missiles....one on each wingtip and two on a center line pylon.  And finally the plane carries 8 bombs for ground attack missions.  The engines were purchased from Industrial Light and Magic and had been used on an actually full sized Pod Racer created for filming the Star Wars movie Episode #1.  Unfortunately the weapons systems were all fitted before the engines were installed, so weapons system/propulsion system design conflicts weren't noticed till the maiden flight into battle.  

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The maiden mission was simple enough....take off at dawn and destroy anything they come across.  The extreme weight of the aircraft's weapon systems and tiny wings weren't taken into consideration....this would prove to be a somewhat critical flaw to the design.  Our two furball Freedom Fighters launched down the runway of the local airport in search of prey.......it was decided to go after all airliners as they would prove easy targets.  As they raced down the runway getting airborne proved impossible.....finally with feet to go the tiny fighter lifted off and spent the next few miles hopping hedges trying to gain altitude.  After 30 minutes of flying time they spotted their first target....a tiny single engine Cessna piloted by an older lady of 80 plus years of age.  Dan's Mon-key fired a heat seeking missile which promptly went straight into one of the SLF fighters' engines with a huge explosion.  Our heros raced now quite out of control past the Cessna only to see the old lady give our terrified heros the finger and a wink.  Stupid Cousin Larry let loose the tail gun at her but she proved to be a better pilot and avoided being hit.  By this point Stupid Cousin Larry was frantically yanking on his ejection seat handle to no effect.  

Dan's Mon-key was now determined to get this obviously rude Grandmother that wasn't taking his Freedom Fighting cause very seriously.  As he got on the tail of the Cessna for the second pass, he decided to us his twin 60 mm forward firing gattling guns to avoid a missile blowing up his remaining engine.  The gattling guns don't work out so well.  It seems they are lined up with all the power cable linkages on the sides of the forward fuselage and the remaining engine is now blasted free from the SLF fighter.  Stupid cousin Larry begin to fire his gun in a "beyond frantic" attempt to maintain some forward momentum....this had a slight effect for 15 more seconds till all his ammo is exhausted.  Dan's Mon-key spotted an airliner down below on the tarmac and drops his bomb load....and over his shoulder he can see the airliner explode and ARC contributor Will Hendriks shaking his fist in rage.  

The engineless pod makes a very fast decent with Stupid Cousin Larry shrieking like a baby Chimp all  the way down to a very rough landing.  They both piled onto Mon-keys trike while being buzzed by the Cessna and made their getaway before the authorities could catch up to them.  Dan Winfield had to begin working extra shifts at his job to replace the destroyed airliner.

The Model

The project was simple....enter the contest with the best model and win the main prize and prove that a Mon-key can build a better model than a bunch of dim witted humans. 

Items used were one 1/32 Star Wars Pod racer kit (engines and engine power cable linkages)....a 1/48 Monogram F-18.....1/48 Leading Edge Millennium sheet.......1/72 Leading Edge Millennium sheet...plus plenty of styrene items for scratch building purposes from Evergreen Styrene.

Basic hacking is done.  The main landing gear wells had to be cut from the rear half of fuselage and moved forward to be grafted onto forward fuselage.  A Dremel Mini-Mite is critical for modifications like this
Back end is capped off with sheet styrene......at this point I have no clue how to finish back end.
There is filler galore.
Cockpit is very nice OOB....but I added sidewall detail...plus I added some coiled wire to the right side of cockpit.
A hole is cut for a rear turret.  The whole rear area of this model is filled with metal to keep the tail on the ground  to support the engines.  It was critical for the full effect that the engines be only supported by their "power cables".
A simple but effective scratch built nose gun.  First start with large plastic tube.  This is thinned from the inside, so it looks like thin metal.  Cap it of with sheet styrene......drill 4 holes and insert 4 styrene rods to act as gun barrels.....then finally drill tiny holes in the end of the rods to give the look of gun barrels. 
Linkages from Star Wars pod racer kit were used as well as the engines.
Tail end is created with the use of autobody finishing filler.  Tail gun will slip over white rod.  
Wings are on.  The wings are the 1/48 vertical stabilizers sanded smooth and shaped to fit their new location.
Power cables are brass tubing wrapped in brass wire.  The wire was soldered at both ends to the tubing.  My Dremel Mini-mite was used to spin the brass tubing, so I could quickly wrap the wire around the brass tubing.  Mon-keys are smarter than humans you know.
Ready for painting.
Bottom side after painting.
Top side all painted and coated in Future and ready for decals. 
Engines were first sprayed with SnJ metalizer.  Then a  mixture of black Chalk pastels (NOT oil pastels) was mixed with a  bit of water and dishwashing soap.  The dishwashing soap breaks the surface tension of the water and also provides a bit of stick for the "chalk paint" you're creating.  This mixture is paint carelessly on the engines at right and allowed to fully dry.  Then excess chalk is wiped off with dry kleenx and dry Q-Tips cotton swabs and raised details covered in SnJ come shining through.  A damp kleenex was used in some spots to remove black chalk.  The mixture is easy to remove if you don't get it right the first time you can do it again and again till you get the look you want.
Tail gattling gun and two forward firing gattling guns  were made using styrene tubing and a couple of discs cut from sheet styrene with holes drilled in the styrene discs.  Laquar thinner is my glue of choice for fine work like this....it works as well as Tenax, but at a fraction of the cost. 
Two sets of Leading Edge Millennium sheets were used....one in 1/48 for the main section of the fuselage and 1/72 decals were used for the wings.  So the light decal stripes directly beside the cockpit are 1/48 decals that blend into the 1/72 stripes that sweep across the wings.  The original 1/48 horizontal stabilizers were cut to the size of 1/72 F-18 Vertical stabilizers and then used as vertical stabilizers.  1/72 Leading Edge Millennium vertical stabilizer  decals were used for the vertical stabilizers.   

 

I can not speak highly enough about the pleasure I had using Leading Edge decals....they are an amazing product and an absolute treat to use......I'm now fully hooked on their products.

Photos and text by Dan Winfield's Mon-key and Mon-key's stupid Cousin Larry